Category Archives: Publishing

Amazon Takes Aim At Scammers But Hits Authors | David Gaughran

Formatted your TOC in the back of your book? It’s a red flag that might get your buy buttons removed. Author David Gaughran breaks it down.

Amazon is an extremely innovative company – and usually quite responsive to self-publisher’s concerns – but sometimes it gets things very wrong too. Today is one of those times. I’ve received…

Source: Amazon Takes Aim At Scammers But Hits Authors | David Gaughran

How I Self-Published My Audiobooks on Audible

Think Like an Entrepreneur by Deborah A BaileyThis a continuation of my earlier post about my self-publishing resources.

My first audiobook, Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life was published in 2014.

After I published that book in 2010 I hadn’t planned on an audio version. But, after reading about the growth of audiobooks — which reached approximately 1.47 billion in 2014 – I decided to dive in.

Here are some things to keep in mind for the self-publisher:

There are other platforms for audiobooks, but I went with ACX  (Audiobook Creation Exchange) which is owned by Amazon. Using the same login/password you use to publish your books on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), you can login to ACX. Once you’re on there, you claim the books you’ve published on Amazon.

Once you claim your book, you’re guided through steps to set up your book so that you can get auditions from narrators.

Getting Started

I usually pay the voice artist up front. Those fees can run from approx. $50 per finished  hour or more, depending on the voice artist’s fee. You can indicate your budget after you claim your book and open it up for auditions. (Finished hour is exactly that. You’re paying for the hours that were recorded and completed, not for the total hours it took to create the audiobook.)

ACX automatically creates a contract that you can download. Once the voice artist accepts your offer, you’re good to go. So far I haven’t had an offer rejected, so I can’t speak to that. But it is a possibility, so keep a plan B in mind.

Usually they’ll upload an initial 15 minute recording to give you a feel for what they’ll be doing going forward. The voice artists that I’ve worked with have also produced the audiobook, so all I had to do was provide a copy of the manuscript. I gave them pronunciations of names/words (particularly ones I made up for my fiction) and shared the backstory so they’d have a context.

Recording

Listening to all of the recordings as they’re being created is, in my opinion, the best way to go. You can correct things (if necessary) and let the narrator know if they’re on the right track.

It’s easier to communicate using email (instead of ACX) and I recommend it. But when it comes to approving the recordings, indicating that you’ve paid the voice artist, etc., those things have to happen on ACX.

When you give your okay that the recordings are all as they should be, the amount due is automatically totaled (depending on the number of finished hours).

I’d rather not go through the work of recording my own books (especially after the work of writing them). So, I have no problem letting the experts do the work in this case. The only thing I have to do during the process – other than listen to the draft of the audio – is to create a new cover.

Hathor Legacy: Burn by Deborah A BaileyCovers

The sizing is different, and you’re not allowed to just change the dimensions of your book cover. For Audible, your cover has to be 2400 x 2400.

Four of my books are audios, and I was able to do the covers myself for two of them. But if you’re not comfortable using a graphics program, consider having a graphic designer do your cover.

You can use one of the templates ACX provides. However, they’re not exactly aesthetically pleasing, so I don’t recommend that option.

In a pinch you can use the record cover template on Canva, and design something there with a lot less stress. (Use Canva’s album cover template for starting point for the sizing, or use the custom design dimensions.)

I’ve used Gimp (a free download ) and Photoshop (not free, but you can get a subscription for as low as $9.99 per month). There are tutorial videos on YouTube and all over the web, if you’re feeling industrious.

Costs

Hathor Legacy: Outcast by Deborah A BaileyYou can find great voice artists at a lower rate, but it all depends. Rates aren’t necessarily tied to experience.

I’ve used experienced voice artists who were breaking into audiobook narration, so their rates were in the $50-100 per finished hour range.

One thing to note is voice artists who are members of the SAG-AFTRA union will have a set minimum rate.

Be aware of the approx. total hours your book will need to be completed and choose accordingly. Set your budget in advance and use that to filter voice artists who have higher fees than you desire to pay.

There are other options, for instance, splitting the royalties and having the producer/narrator take on the production costs. I haven’t gone that route, so I can’t  say if it has an advantage or not.

Getting Paid

You get paid monthly as long as the amount is at least $10. Otherwise, it gets rolled over to the next month.

Also be aware that unlike ebooks and paperbacks, you don’t set the price. So making your investment back depends on the net sale price. (The royalty at ACX is currently 40%.)

If your book is added to Whispersync, most likely it will be discounted if a reader wants the ebook and audiobook combo. You’ll receive royalties based on that discounted net sale price, not on the regular retail price (the price without any discounts).

Royalties are also sliced and diced depending on whether the buyer is an Audible member and if they used credits for the purchase. (Buyers who get your book on iTunes are considered “a la carte” buyers and will pay the regular retail price.)

If someone buys your audiobook, joins Audible as a member and remains current for a specific amount of time, you’ll earn a $50 bounty.

ACX provides reports you can download and there’s a lot of online documentation. I find the customer service to be pretty responsive, as well.

Free Codes

One big plus is that once your book is published, ACX provides you with 25 codes for free audiobooks. So you can use them to gift to reviews, friends, fans, etc. You will receive royalties on the regular retail price when those books are claimed–so you do get paid for them. If you want codes for the UK store, simply contact customer service and they’ll send them.

Publishing

When all the work is done, the voice artist has acknowledged payment, ACX runs a check on the audios and cover. Then about 10-14 days later (give or take a few days) the book will be published and distributed to Amazon, Audible and iTunes.

If your book ends up in a category that you don’t want it to be in, customer service will take care of that too. Unfortunately they don’t have a science fiction romance category, so if that’s what you write, you’ll have to decide where you want your audiobooks placed.

The downside is that I changed one book, but not the other. Which means right now they’re in two different categories. Does that help or hurt? I can’t say. But when the third book in the series comes out, I’ll ensure they’re all placed in the same category.

Check out my audiobooks and listen to samples on Audible: http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_pd_Sci-Fi_c2_1_auth?searchAuthor=Deborah+A.+Bailey

Extras

If you’re looking for audiobook promotion, check out AudioBook Blast for some options. So far I’ve done pretty well with it for reviews.

For some additional reading and opinions from other authors (including yours truly) check out this post from Sci-Fi Romance QuarterlyThe A to SFR of Audiobooks (Part 1)

If you’ve created an audiobook and have a different experience to share, please do so in the comments. Or if you have questions, those are fine too!

 

My Self-Publishing Resources

cA4aKEIPQrerBnp1yGHv_IMG_9534-3-2Several weeks ago I presented a workshop at the local library about self publishing. That got me thinking about my own experiences and how they’ve evolved over time.

When I published my first book, Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life, in 2010, I hired someone to help me to navigate the process. She had a background in traditional publishing, so she had a lot of information to share. Her experience helped me to produce a very professional product.

That was only five years ago, and since then the publishing world has changed. Even better for DIY-ers, the technology allows us to create books with a lot less effort and better quality.

Now that I’ve published several books, I have my routine down. Instead of having to hire a company to convert my manuscript to .epub (and to design the layout) as I did in 2010, I use templates. Because I had to find cost-effective ways to get things done, I found free or low-cost tools to get my books out there.

However, I don’t take shortcuts when it comes to editing. Luckily I have a couple of professional editor friends, so I can get good rates (or “friend and family rates”) which is a big help. As far as the cover, I don’t scrimp there either, though it depends on the book whether I spend more or less.

I’ve accumulated a lot of resources along the way, and I’m sharing them below. This is based on my experiences, so your mileage may vary. If you have any recommendations to add, or any questions, share them in the comments.

After I finish my manuscript, I copy it into an MS Word template from Book Design Templates http://www.bookdesigntemplates.com. That template gets uploaded to KDP and to Draft2Digital for the books I want to distribute to booksellers other than Amazon.

One of the advantages of Draft2Digital http://Draft2Digital.com is you can upload your manuscript, convert it to .epub and download it without publishing your book. So if you just want to set it up and keep it in draft, you can.

At this point I don’t worry about getting ISBNs for my ebooks. For my print books I get them through CreateSpace http://www.CreateSpace.com for $10.00, using my account on Bowker.

But if you do decide to buy ISBNs from Bowker, don’t bother paying for UPC codes. You can get them generated for free on Bookow http://www.bookow.com/resources.ph.

For covers, I’ve used a few designers. Steph’s Cover Design http://www.stephscoverdesign.com/ for Hathor Legacy: Outcast, Hathor Legacy: Burn, Family Pride: Love and Challenges and Family Pride: Blood Fever.

For Electric Dreams: Seven Short Stories of the Future, I got a ready-made cover from Go On Write http://goonwrite.com.

Hathor Legacy: Revelations (my upcoming book) will have a cover designed by James T. Egan at Bookfly Design http://www.bookflydesign.com/.

Most people are aware of Amazon KDP, Smashwords and Amazon CreateSpace for publishing, but there are some new platforms gaining ground. For instance, there’s one I’ve only recently found: Pronoun https://pronoun.com/. You can publish your book there and select cover designers, editors and marketing specialists from their resource list. I haven’t had experience with them as yet, but it might be an alternative to keep in mind.